The Unintended Democratic Dividends of Voluntary Standards

11.18.2020, 9:00AM to 10:30AM

Watch the event recording here


Multinational corporations encounter difficult challenges when operating in emerging markets where the rule of law is weak and enforcement is unpredictable. In environments where laws either don’t exist or aren’t carried out, international companies face a host of possible risks, from bribery requests to forced labor in supplier companies. To protect themselves and encourage local businesses to follow best practices, some international companies have developed voluntary standards that meet or surpass international requirements on a variety of issues. While these standards are designed to decrease a foreign company’s exposure to risk, they often strengthen local democratic institutions as well. Intended or not, voluntary standards can provide tangible dividends for democracy.

CIPE’s Anti-Corruption & Governance Center (ACGC) is pleased to welcome three practitioners for a discussion moderated by Michele Crymes on how both companies and local democratic institutions can benefit from adhering to voluntary standards.


Michele Crymes is a Program Officer with the Anti-Corruption & Governance Center, where she works on a variety of global transparency and integrity initiatives. She is a former attorney who investigated U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practice Act violations in Mexico, Brazil, and Peru. Crymes also developed rule of law and human rights programming in Colombia, East Timor, and Central America. She holds a JD from Wisconsin Law School and a MA in International Relations & Politics from Marquette University.


  • Gabriel Thoumi is a lecturer at John Hopkins University with over 15 years of experience as a global research manager and analyst in debt and equity markets largely focused on integrating financial, scientific, and ESG data into models which determine pricing signals and asset allocation strategies. His research work has focused on global growth and value strategies, and covers a wide variety of themes including green bonds, governance, climate, water, energy, agriculture, natural capital, gender, and social inclusion.
  • Dan Strechay is currently the Director of Global Outreach & Engagement with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Dan worked previously as a senior communications manager at PepsiCo where he made key decisions on sustainability issues and policies, including supporting the company’s zero deforestation policy.
  • Eric Hontz leads CIPE’s Corrosive Capital initiatives and is actively developing CIPE’s thought leadership on Constructive Capital. Operating at the nexus of global business, investment, and trade, Hontz’ work focuses on corporate governance, anti-corruption compliance, and the rule of law. Hontz has previous experience as a law associate and business investment executive

This event, organized by the Anti-Corruption & Governance Center will also include ample time for audience participation, so please come prepared to ask questions.